For Release 11:00 P.H., E.D.T. , Sunday. September 11th, 1977
Rolling Stone Magazine
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New York, New York 10022
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400 AMERICAN JOUI
ISTS SECRETLY AIDED THE
In a copyrighted story that will appear in a forthcoming issue of RolUnq |
Stone magazine (going to press next Monday), reporter Carl Bernstein details
far more extensive CIA-use of the American news media than previously acknowledged
by Agency officials publicly or in closed sessions with members of Congress.
Bernstein reports that during the past 25 years more than 400 American
V ’ 'I'
journalists secretly carried out assignments for the Central Intelligence Agency,
i-i: ’ f
according to documents on file at CIA headquarters. In many instances the jour-
h . • • 4 . V ’•
.. .v: ■
nalists performed tasks for the CIA with^.the consent of the management of
America's leading news-gathering organizations.
Carl Bernstein, 33, formerly a reporter for the Washington Post, is the co-
author of "All the President's Men" and "The Final Days. He began his inquiry
into this subject over one year ago.
Bernstein says journalists involved in the CIA program provided a full range
of services to the Agency, from simple intelligence collection to helping re-
cruit and direct spies in foreign countries. Some of the reporters involved
were Pulitzer Prize winners and household names. Some received partial CIA
payment for their work, almost always in cash.
In addition, at least 25 news organizations provided jobs and credentials
("journalistic cover") for full-time CIA employees masquerading as journalists
Rolling Stone/Bernstein/CIA, p.2
Among those major media whose top executives lent cooperation to the CIA
were CBS, ABC, NBC, the Associated Press, United Press International, Newsweek,
Time Inc., The New York Times, Mutual Broadcasting System, Reuters, Copley News
Service and the Hearst Newspapers, among others.
The Agency's relationship with the New York Times was by far its most valuable
among newspapers, according to CIA officials. Bernstein reports that the Times
provided press credentials to approximately 10 undercover CIA employees, with
the full approval of the late Publisher Arthur Hays Sulzberger.
In the field, journalists were used to help recruit foreign agents, to con-
vey instructions and dollars to foreign officials bought and controlled by the
CIA, to acquire and evaluate information, and to plant false information with
officials of foreign governments. Many signed secrecy agreements with the Agency
pledging never to discuss their involvement.
THE ROLE OF THE CHURCH COMMITTEE
Although some details of CIA-press relationships have trickled out in recent
years, neither media accounts nor congressional hearings have hinted at their
extensive scale, Bernstein reports in Rolling Stone .
During the 1976 CIA investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee, the
true extent of the Agency's involvement with the media became apparent to several
members of the committee, but was deliberately concealed from its full membership,
the Senate and the public. The decision to misrepresent the dimensions of the
situation was made after intensive lobbying from CIA officials. Bernstein reports
on one such CIA-Senate meeting — an extraordinary dinner session at the Agency's
headquarters in Langley, Virginia in late March, 1976. Those present included
Senators Frank Church and John Tower, members of the conmittee staff, CIA
Director George Bush and two other Agency officials.
A Senator who was the object of the Agency's lobbying effort said later;
Rolling Stone/Bernstein/CIA, p.3
"From the CIA point of view this was the highest, most sensitive covert program
of all." "There is quite an incredible spread of relationships, " reported
Senate committee investigator William B. Bader. "You don't need to manipulate
Time magazine, for example, because there are Agency people at the management
PALEY. SULZBERGER. ALSQP BROTHERS AND OTHERS NAMED
The origins of the Agency's intimate dealings with the press, Bernstein
writes, are traceable to CIA director Allen Dulles, who saw that journalistic
cover would give CIA operatives abroad a degree of access unobtainable under
almost any other means. In the words of one high-level CIA official, "one
journalist is worth 20 agents — he has access and can ask questions without
In addition to numerous accredited correspondents and freelancers, there were
perhaps a dozen well-known columnists and broadcast commentators whose relation-
ship with the CIA went far beyond those normally maintained between reporters
and their sources, according to Bernstein.
These are referred to at the Agency as "known assets" and are considered
receptive to the Agency's point of view. These included C*L. Sulzberger at the
New York Times, Joseph Alsop and the late Stewart Alsop.
In preparing his article for Rolling Stone . Carl Bernstein interviewed more
than 35 former and present CIA officials, plus Senators and staff members of
the Senate Intelligence Committee. He traces the close working relationship
between former CIA Directors, beginning with Allen Dulles and John McCone,
and news executives including CBS's William Paley, Newsweek 's Publisher the
late Phillip Graham, The New York Times' Publisher the late Arthur Hays
Sulzberger, the late Henry Luce of Time Inc., and James Copley of the Copley
Rolling Stone/Bernstein/CIA, p.4
CIA USE OF JOURNALISTS CONTINUES
As for the possible continuing relationship between CIA and these major
media, Bernstein reports that the Agency maintained ties with 75 to 90 jour-
nalists at least until 1976, according to high-level CIA sources. He also cites
an unpublished report by the House Select Committee on Intelligence, chaired
by Rep. Otis Pike; showing that at least fifteen news organizations were still
providing cover for CIA operatives as of 1976. The Agency - press relationship,
Bernstein writes, "continues to be shrouded by an official policy of obfuscation
and deception," according to CIA sources.
.. ‘5> -'
For Release 11:00 P.M. , E.D.T. , Sunday Septariber 11. 1977
The CIA and The Press
by Carl Bernstein
Copyright (g)1977 by Rolling Stone. All Rights Reserved.
Note: THE ENCLOSED STOTY MAY NOT HE REPRINTED. IT IS
BEINj MADE AVAILABLE FOR PURPOSES OF BRIEF EXCERPTING
QUOTATIONS AND OXnEmAL' BACKGBCIUND ONLY.
This article will appear in its entirety in issue #250
of Rolling Stone Marine on sale October 4th, 1977.
By CARL BEKNSTEIN
©1977 BY ROLLING STONE, ALL RICJnS RESERVED.
>/:* -1 I Vi- ■
' ■ . *
In 1953, Joseph Alsop, then one of America’s leading syndicated*
colxinnists, went to the Philippines to cover an election. He did not
go because he was asked to do so by his S 3 mdicate. He did not go
because he was asked to do so by the newspapers that printed his colunn.
He went at the request of the CIA.
Alsop is one of more than 400 American journalists who in the x>ast
twenty-five years have secretly carried out assignments for the Central
Intelligence Agency, according to documents on file at CIA headquarters.
Some of these joumalists’ relationships with the Agency were tacit;
2 — 2 — 2— 2
some were explicit. There was cooperation, accomxxiation and overlap.
Journalists provided a full range of clandestine services — from
sinple intelligence collection to serving as go-betweens with spies
in Communist countries. Reporters shared their notdxoks with' the ClA. ^.
Editors shared their staffs. Some of the journalists were Pulitzer Prize
winners, distinguished reporters who considered themselves ajxbassadors-
without-port folio for their country. Most were less exalted: foreign
correspondents who found that their association with the Agency helped
their work; stringers and freelancers who were as interested in the
derring-do of the spy business as in filing articles; and, the smallest
category, full-time CIA employees masquerading as journalists abroad.
In nany instances, CIA documents show, journalists were engaged to
perform tasks for the CIA with the consent of the managements of America *s
leading news-gathering organimtions.
Among the executives who lent their cooperation to the Agency were
William Paley of the Coluntoia Broadcasting System, Henry Luce of
Time, Inc. , Arthur Hays Sulzberger of the New York Times . Philip
Graham of the Washington Post , Barry Bingham Sr. of Jhe Loiil5gyiiie
Courier- Journal , and James Copley of the Copley News Service. Other
organizations which cooperated with the CIA include the American
Broadcasting Company, the National Broadcasting Conpany, the Associated
Press, United Press Intei*national, Reuters, Hearst Newspapers, Scripps-
Hbward, Newswe^ magazine, the Mutual Broadcasting System, the
Miami Herald and the old Saturday Evening Post and New York Herald-
By far the most valuable of these institutions, according to CIA
officials, have been the New York Times , CBS and Time Inc.
The CIA's use of the American nevs media has be^ much more
extensive than Agency officials have acknowledged publicly or in closed
sessions with menfcers of Congress. The general outlines of what
happened are indisputable; the specifics are harder to come by. CIA
sources hint that a partictilar journalist was trafficking all over
Eastern Europe for the Agency; the journalist says no, he just had
lunch with the station chief. CIA sources say flatly that a well-known
iii ABC correspondent worked for the Agency throu^ 1973; they refuse to
f identify him. A high-level CIA official with a prodigious manory says
that the New York Times provided cover for about ten CIA operatives
between 1950 and 1966; he does not know who the agents were, or who in
the newspap)er*s iranageroent made the arrangernents.
The history of the CIA’s involvement with the American press
continues to be shrouded by an official policy of obfuscation and
deception for the following principal reasons:
’•The use of journalists has been among the most productive means
of intelligence-gathering employed by the CIA and continues today.
Although the Agency has cut back sharply on the use of reporters since
1973 (primarily as a result of pressure from the media), some
d <L ■ 4 - 4
♦Further investigation into the matter, CIA officials say, would
inevitably reveal a series of enbarrassing relationships in the 1950s
and 1960s with some of the most powerful organisations and individuals
in American journalism.
The Agency's special relationships with these organizations and ■
other so-called "majors" in publishing and broadcasting enabled the CIA
to post seme of its most valuable operatives abroad without exposure for
more than two decades. In most instances. Agency files show, officials
at the highest levels of the CIA (usually director or d^xity director)
dealt personally with a single designated individual in the top
man agement of the cooperating news organization. The aid furnished often
took two forms: providing jobs and credentials ("journalistic cover"
in Agency parlance) to CIA operatives about to be posted in foreign
capitals; and lending the Agency the undercover services of reporters
already on staff, including some of the best-known correspondents in the
In the field, American journalists were used to help recruit and
handle foreigners as agents; to acquire and evaluate information; and
to plant false information with officials of foreign governments. Many
signed secrecy agreements, pledging never to divulge anything about
their dealings with the Agency; some signed enployment contracts; some
were assigned case officers and treated with unusual deference. Others
had less structured relationships with the Agency, even though the tasks
they performed were similar: they were briefed by CIA personnel before
trips abroad, debriefed afterward, and used as intermediaries with
foreign agents. Appropriately, the CIA uses the term "r^rting" to
describe nuch of what cooperating journalists did for the Agency.
' We would ask them, 'Will 3 tou do us a favor?'" said a senior CIA
official. "'We understand you're going to be in Yugoslavia. Have
>' ■' paved all the streets? Where did you see planes? Were there any
M:. signs of military presence? How many Soviets did you see? If you
happen to meet a Soviet, get his name and spell it right Can you
^ nieeting for us? Or relay a message?"' Many CIA officials
regarded these helpful journalists as operatives; the journalists tend
to see thenselves as trusted friends of the Agency who perfonned
occasional favors in;the national interest. .
"I'm proud they asked me and proud to have done it," says former
syndicated columnist Joseph Alsop who, like his late brother, columnist
Stewart Alsop, undertook clandestine tasks for the Agency. "The notion
y that a newspaperman doesn't have a duty to his country is perfect balls."
Fran the Agency's perspective, there was nothing untoward in such
relationships, and any ethical questions are a matte» for the journalistic
profession to resolve, not the intelligence comnunity.
During the 1976 investigation of the CIA by the Senate Intelligence
Committe, chaired by Senator Frank Church, the dimensions of the
Agency's involvanent with the press became apparent to several manbers
of the panel, as well as to two or three investigators on the staff. But
top officials of the CIA, including former directors William Cblby and
6 - 6 - 6-6
George Bush, persuaded the coimittee to restrict its inquiry into the
matter and to deliberately misrgjresent the actual scope of the
activities in its final report. The multi-volume report contains
nine pages in which the use of journalists is discussed in deliberately
vague and sometimes misleading terms. It makes no mention of the actual
nunber of journalists who undertook covert tasks for the CIA. Nor
does it adequately describe the role played by newspaper and broadcast
executives in cooperating with the Agency.
The Agency's dealings with the press began during the earliest
stages of the Cold War. Allen Dulles, who became director of the CIA
in 1953, sou^t to establish a recruit ing-and-cover capability within
America's nost prestigious journalistic institutions. By operating
under the guise of accredited news correspondents, Dulles believed CIA
operatives abroad would be accorded a degree of access and freedom of
movement unobtainable under almost any other type of cover.
American publishers, like so many other corporate and institutional
leaders at the time, were willing to coninit the resources of their
coonpanies to the struggle against ’’global Cocnninisra.’' Accordingly, the
traditional line separating the American press corps and government was
often indistinguishable: rarely was a news agency used to provide cover
for CIA operatives abroad without the knowledge and consent of either its
principal owner, publisher or senior editor. Thus, contrary to the
notion that the CIA insidiously infiltrated the joiunalistic coninunity,
there is ample evidence that America's leading publishers and news
executives allowed themselves and their organizations to become
handmaidens to the intelligence service. "Let's not pick on some poor
reporters, for God's sake," William Colby exclaimed at one point to the
Church Conniittee's investigators. "Let's 8° 'to the managanents. They
were witting." In all, about twenty-five news organizations (including
those listed at the beginning of this article) provided cover for the
In addition to cover capability, Dulles initiated a "de-briefing"
procedure under which American correspondents returning from abroad
routinely enptied their notebooks and offered their impressions to
Agency personnel. S\jch arrangements, continued by Dulles' successors
to the present day, were made with literally dozens of news organizations.
In the 1950s, it was not imccxnnon fdr returning reporters to be met at'^lk
the ship by CIA officers. "There would be these guys from the CIA
flashing ID cards and looking like they belonged at the Yale Club,"
said Hugh Morrow, a former Satxirday Evening Post correspondent vrtio is
now press secretary to former vice-president Nelson Rockefeller. "It
got to be so routine that 3 TOu felt a little miffed if you weren't asked."
CIA officials almost always refuse to divulge the names of : ^
.. 4'r*' • ■
Journalists who have cxoperated with the Agency. They say it would be
unfair to judge these individuals in a context different from the one that
spawned the relationships in the first place. 'There was a time when
it wasn't considered a crime to serve your government," said one
hifif^lsvel CIA official who makes no secret of his bitterness. "This
all has to be considered in the context of the morality of the times,
rather than against latter-day standards — and hypocritical standards
at that." Many journalists who covered World War II were close to
people in the Office of Strat^ic Seirvices, the wartime predecessor of
the CIA; more in^xsrtant, they were all on the same side. When the war
ended and many OSS officials went into the CIA, it was only natural
that these relationships would continue. .Meanwhile, the first postwar
generation of joinrnalists entered the profession; they shared the same
political and professional values as their mentors. "You haH a gang of
people who woilced together during World War II and never got over it,"
said one Agency official. "They were genuinely motivated and highly
susceptible to intrigue and being on the inside. Then in the Fifties
and Sixties there was a national codsensus about a national threat.
The Vietnam War tore everything to pieces — shredded the consensus and
threw it in the air." Another Agency official observed: "Many journalists
didn’t give a second thougjit to associating with the Agency. But there
was a point when the ethical issues which most people had sutmerged finally
surfaced. Today, a lot of these guys vehemently deny that they had
any relationship with the Agency.”
From the outset the use of journalists was among the CIA’s most
sensitive undertakings, with full knowledge restricted to the Director
9 - 9 - 9-9
of Central Intelligence and a few of his chosen deputies. Dulles
and his successors were fearful of what would happen if a journalist-
operative's cover was blown, or if details of the Agency's dealings
with the press otherwise became public. As a result, contacts with the
heads of news-gathering organizations were initiated by Dulles and
succeeding directors of Central Intelligence; by the Deputy directors
and division chiefs in charge of covert operations — Frank Wisner,
Cord Meyer Jr., Richard Bissell, Desnond FitzGerald, Tracy Barnes,
Thomas Karamessines and Richard Helms (himself a former UPI correspondent);
and, occasionally, by others in the CIA hierarchy known to have an
unusually close social relationship with a particular publisher or
James Angleton, wtio was recently removed as the Agency's head of
counterintelligence operations, ran a conpletely independent groi?) of
journalist-operatives who performed sensitive and frequently dangerous
assignments; little is known about this groi?) for the slnple reason
that Angleton deliberately kept no files.
The CIA even ran a formal training program in the 1950s to teach
its agents to be journalists. Intelligence officers were ^taught to
make noises like reporters," explained a high CIA official, and were then
placed in major news organizations with help from management. ^’These were
the guys who went through the ranks and were told, * You* re going to be
a jour n a li st, *** the CIA official said. Relatively few of the 400-soroe
relationships described in Agency files followed that pattern, however;
most involved persons were already bona fide journalists when they
10 - 10 - 10-10
began undertaMng tasks for the Agency.
The Agency's relationships with journalists, as described in CIA
files, include the following general categories:
♦Legitimate, accredited staff marters of news organizations —
usually reporters. This group includes many of the best-known joiumalists
who carried out tasks for the CIA. The files show that the salaries
paid to some r^»rters by newspaper and broadcast networks were
supplemaited by nominal paymaits from the CIA, either in the fonn of
retainers, travel expenses or outlays for specific services performed.
Almost all the payments were made in cash, .("nie accredited category
also incltides photographers, administrative personnel of foreign news
bureaus and menijers of broadcast technical crews.)
Two of the Agency's most valuable personal relationships in the
1950s, according to CIA officials, were with reporters ^rtio covered
Latin America — Jerry O'Leary of the Washington Star and Hal Hendrix
of the Miami News , a Pulitzer Prize winner who became a high official
of the International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation. Hendrix
was extremely helpful to the Agency in providing information about
individuals in Miami's Cuban exile conmunity. O'Leary was considered
a valued asset in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Agency files
contain lengthy reports of both men's activities on behalf of the CIA.
O'Leary maintains that his dealings were limited to the normal
give-and-take that goes on between reporters abroad and their sources.
CIA officials dispute the contention: "There's no question Jerry
reported for us," said one. "Jerry did assessing and spotting [of
11 - 11 - 11-11
prospective agent^ but he was better as a reporter for us."
Referring to O'Leary's denials, the official added: "I don't know
wtoat in the world he's worried about unless he's wearing that nan tie
of integrity the Senate comnittee put on you journalists."
O'Leary attributes the difference of opinion to semantics.
"I might call them up and say something like, 'Papa Doc has the clap,
did you know that?' and they'd put. it in the file. "I don't consider
that reporting for them .... It's useful to be friendly to them and,
generally, I felt friendly to them. But I think they were more
helpful to me than I was to them." O'Leary took particular deception
to being described in the same context as Hendrix. "Hal was really
doing work for them," said O'Leary. "I'm still with the Star . He
ended vp at ITT." Hendrix could not be reached for conment. According
to Agency officials, neither Hendrix nor O'Leary was paid by the CIA.
♦Stringers* and freelancers. Most were payrolled by the Agency
under standard contractual terms. 'Their journalistic credentials were
often si 4 >plied by cooperating news organizations: some filed news
stories; others reported only for the CIA.
♦Etaployees of so-called CIA "proprietaries.” During the past
twenty-five years, the Agency has secretly bankrolled numerous foreign
press services, periodicals and newspapers — both English and foreign
language — which provided excellent cover for CIA agents. One such
publication was the Rome Daily American , forty percent of which was owned
by the CIA until the 1970s.
♦A stringer is a reporter who works for one or several news oi*ganizations
on a piecework basis.
12 - 12 - 12-12
♦Editors, publishers and broadcast network executives. Ihe CIA's
relationship with most news executives differed fundamentally frcra
those with working reporters and stringers, who were much more subject
to direction from the Agency. A few executives — Arthur Hays Sulzberger
of the New Yoiic Times among them — signed secrecy agreements. But
such formal understandings were rare: relationships between Agency
officials and media executives were usually social — "The P and Q
Street axis in Georgetown," said one soinrce. 'Tou don't tell
William Paley to sign a piece of paper saying he won't fink."
♦Colmmists and connentators. There are perhaps a dozen well-known
coliamlsts and broadcast comnentators whose relationships with the CIA
go far beyond those normally maintained betweai reporters and their
sources. They are referred to at the Agency as "known assets" and can be
counted on to perform a variety of undercover tasks; they are considered
receptive to the Agency's point of view on various subjects. Three of
the most wd-dely read columnists who tnaintained such ties with the Agency
are C.L. Sul2±>erger of the New York Tiroes , Jos^h Alsop, anH the late
Stewart Alsop, whose column appeared in the New York Herald-Tribune ,
th© Satui*day Evening Post and Newsweek . CIA files contain reports of
specific tasks all three undertook. Sulzberger is still regarded as an
active asset by the Agaicy. According to a senior CIA official, 'Toung
Cy Sulzberger had some uses .... He signed a secrecy agreement because
we gave him classified information .... There was sharing, give a-nri take.
We'd say, 'We'd like to know this; if we tell you this will it help you
get access to so-and-so?' Because of his access in Europe he had an
C^en Sesame. We'd ask him to just report: 'What did so-and-so say,
what did he look like, is he healthy?' He was very eager, he loved
to cooperate." On one occasion, according to several CIA officials,
Sul 2 ±)erger was given a briefing paper by the Agency which ran alnost
verbatim under the columnist's byline in the Times . "Cy came out and
said, 'I'm thinking of doing a piece, can you give me sane background,'"
a CIA officer said. "We gave it to Cy as a background piece and Cy
gave it to the printers and put his name on it." Sulzberger denies
that any such incident occurred.
Sulzberger claims that he was never formally "tasked" by the Agency
and that he "vould never get caught near the spook business."
He recalls being asked to sign a secrecy agreement but cannot remarber
with certainty if he signed it. "My relations were totally informal —
I had a good many friends," he said. "I'm sure they consider me an
asset. Th^ can ask me questions. They find out you're going to Slobovia
and they say, "Cam we talk to you wh^ you get back? ' .... Or they ' 11
want to know if the head of the Ruritanian government is suffering from
psoriasis. But I never took an assignment from one of those guys
I've known Wisner well, and Helms and even Mdjone /former CIA director
John McCone/ I used to play golf with. But they'd have had to be
awfully subtle to have used me. "
Su lzb erger says he was asked to sign the secrecy agreement in the ’y'i -
1950s. ”A guy came around and said, *You are a responsible newsnan and
we need you to sign this it we are going to show you anything classified. *
14 _ 14 _ 14_14
I said I didn't want to get entangled and told them, 'Go to ny uncle
(Arthur Hays Sulzberger, then publisher of the New York Tlmes ^ and if
he says to sign it I will. '" His uncle subsequently signed such an
agreement, Sulzberger said, and he thinks he did too, thnngh he is
unsure. "I don't know, twenty-sane years is a long time." He described
the v(toole question as "a bubble in a bathtub."
Ste^vart Alsop's relationship with the Agency was even more
extensive than Sulzberger's. One official who served at the hipest levels
in the CIA said flatly: "Stew Alsop was a CIA agent." An eqxially f
senior official refused to define Alsop's relationship with the Agency
except to say it was a foimal one. Other sources said that Alsop was
particularly helpful to the Agency in discussions with officials of
foreign govenraents — asking questions to which the CIA was sedting
answers, planting misinfoimation advantageous to American policy,
assessing opportunities for CIA recruitment of well-placed foreigners. ■
"Absolute nonsense," said Joseph Alsop of the notion that his
brother was a CIA ag«it. "I was closer to the Agency than Stew was,
thovigh Stew was very close. I daresay he did perform so*”© t.g.<;icg — he
just did the correct thing as an American .... Ihe Founding Fathers
Cof the CIA] were close personal friends of ours. Dick Bissell ^former
CIA deputy director"] was ny oldest friend, from childhood. It was a
social thing, my dear fellow. I never received a dollar, I never signed
a secrecy agreement . I didn ' t have to .... I've done things for than
when I thought they were the right thing to do. I call it ckDing my duty
as a citizen.**
Alsop is willing to discuss on the record only two of the tasks
he undertook: a visit to Laos in 1952 at the behest of Frank Wisner,
who felt other American r^»rters were filing pro-Cooinunist dispatches
about uprisings there; and a visit to the Philippines in 1953 when the
CIA thought his presence there might affect the out cane of an election.
**Des FitzGerald urged me to go,** Alsop recalled. **It would be less
likely that the left could steal the election if the eyes of the world
were on them. I stayed with the anbassador and wrote about what
Alsop maintains that he was never manipulated by the Agency.
**You can't get entangled so they have leverage on you,** he said. "But
what I wrote was true. My view was to get the facts. If someone in the
Agency was wrong, I stopped talking to them — they'd given me phony
goods." On one occasion, Alsop said, Richard Helms authorized the head
of the Agency's anal 3 rtical branch to provide Alsop with information that
indicated that the war in Vietnam might not be won. "The analytical
side of the Agency was dead wrong on the war," said^sop. "I stopped
talking to them." Today, he sa 3 rs, '"People in our business wDuld be
outraged at the kinds of suggestions that were made to me. They
shouldn't be. The CIA did not open itself at all to people it did not
trust. Stew and I were trusted, and I'm proud of it."
Uurky details of CIA relationships with individuals and news
organizations have trickled out since 1973, when it was first disclosed
that the CIA had, on occasion, aiployed reporters. Those reports,
couijined with new information, serve as casebook studies of the Agency's
use of journalists for intelligeice purposes. They include:
♦The New York Tijiies . The Agency’s relationship with the Times
was by far its most valuable among newspapers, according to CIA officials.
From 1950 to 1966, aibout ten CIA enployees were provided Tunes cover
under arrangements approved by the newspaper's late publisher, Arthur
Hays SuLdaerger. The cover arrangements were part of a gaieral Times
policy — set by Sulaberger — to provide assistance to the CIA whenever
Sulzberger was especially close to Allen Dulles and, later, to John
McCone, the CIA's director from 1962 to 1965. McCone, a businessman who
appreciated meticulous recorct-keeping, regularly wrote memoranda of hi s
conversations, including those in which Sulzberger agreed to allow
undercover CIA enployees to use Times credentials.
"At that level of contact it wAs the mighty talking to the mighty,"
said a hi^-level CIA official who was present at some of the discussions.
"There was an agreement in principle that, yes indeed, we would help
each other. The question of cover came up on several occasions. It
was agreed that the actual arrangements would be handled by subordinates . .
The mighty didn't want to know the specifics; they wanted plausible
The CIA enployees who received Times credentials posed as stringers
for the paper abroad and worked as members of clerical staffs in the
Times ' foreign bureaus. Most were American; two or three were foreigners.
CIA officials cite two reasons why the Agency's working relation-
ship with the Times was closer and more extensive than with any other
paper: the fact that the Times maintained the largest foreign news
operation in American daily Journal i.<3n; and the close personal ties
between the men \rtio ran both institutions. On his trips to Washington
Sulzberger dined at home with McCone; on McCone's trips to New York,
he lunched with Sulzberger at the Times . On those occasions the subject
of hew the Times could better help the Agency was frequently discussed,
according to others who were present.
Sulzberger informed a number of reporters and editors of his
general policy of cooperation with the Agency. "We were in touch with
them — they'd talk to us and some cooperated," said a CIA official.
The cooperation usiaally involved passing on infonnation and "spotting"
prospective agents among foreigners.
Sulzberger signed a secrecy agreement with the CIA in the 1950s,
according to CIA officials — a fact confirmed by C.L. Sulzberger, the ■
late publisher's nephew. However, there are varying^interpretations of
the purpose of the agreemait: C.L. Sulzberger says it represented nothing
more than a pledge not to disclose classified infonnation martp available
to the publisher. That contention is supported by some Agency officials.
Others in the Agency maintain that the agreanent represented a pledge
never to reveal any of the Times ' dealings with the CIA, e^>eclally those
involving cover. And there are those who note that, because all cover
arrangements are classified, a secrecy agreement wauld automatically
apply to them.
Attempts to find out which individuals in the Times organization
made the actiml arrangements for providing credentials to CIA personnel
have been unsuccessful. In a letter to reporter Stuart Loory in 1974,
Turner Catledge, managing editor of the Times from 1951 to 1964, wrote
that approaches by the CIA had been r^uffed by the newspaper:
"I knew nothing about any involvement with the CIA... of any of our
foreign correspondents on the New York Times . I heard many times of
overtures to our men by the CIA, seeking to use their privileges,
contacts, inmunities and, shall we say, superior intelligence in the
sordid business of ^ying and informing. If any one of than succuribed
to the blandishments or cash offers, I was not aware of it. Repeatedly
the CIA and other hush-hush agencies sought to make arrangements for
'cooperation' even with Times management, especially during or soon
after World War II, but we always resisted. Our motive was to protect
According to Wayne Phillips, a former Times refiorter, the CIA
invoked Arth\u* Hays Sulzberger's name when it tried to recruit him as
an undercover operative in 1952, wliile he was studying at Columbia
University's Russian Institute. Phillips said an Agency official told
him that the CIA had "a working arrangement" with the publisher in
which other reporters abroad had been placed on the Agency's payroll.
Phillips, who renained at the Times until 1961, later obtained CIA
documents under the Freedom of Information Act fltoich show that the
Agency intended to develop him as a clandestine "asset" for use abroad.
On January 31st, 1976, the Times carried a brief story describing
the CIA's attenpt to recruit Phillips. It quoted Arthur Ochs Sulzberger,
the present publisher, as follows: "I never heard of the Times
being approached, either in my capacity as publisher or as the son of
the late Mr. Sulzberger." The Times story, written by John M. Crewdson,
also reported that Arthur Hays Sulzberger told an unnamed former
correspondent that he might be approached by the CIA after arriving at a
new post abroad. Sulzberger told him that he was not "under any
obligation to agree," the story said, and that the publisher himself
would be "happier" if he refused to cooperate. "But he left it sort
of up to me," the Times qixjted its former reporter as saying. "The
message was if I really wanted to do that, okay, but he didn't think
it appropriate for a Times correspondent."
C.L. Sulzberger, in a tel^hone interview, said he had no
knowledge of any CIA personnel using Times cover or pf rqorters for
the paper working actively for the Agency. He was the paper's chief of
foreign service from 1944 to 1954 and expressed doubt that his uncle would
have approved such arrangements. More typical of the late publisher,
said Sulzberger, was a promise made to Allen Dulles' brother, John
Foster, then secretary of st?ite, that no Times staff member would be
pemitted to accept an invitation to visit comnunist China without
John Foster Dulles' consent. Such an invitation was extended to the
^ ^ 20 - 20 - 20-20
publisher's nephew in the 1950s; Arth\jr Sulzberger forbid him to accept
it. "It was seventeen years before another Times correspondent
was invited," recalled C.L. Sulzberger.
♦The Columbia Broadcastii^ S 3 rstem. CBS was unquestionably the
CIA's most valuable broadcasting asset. CBS president William Paley
and Allen Dulles were extremely close. Over the years, the network
provided cover for CIA enployees, including at least one well-known
foreign correspondent and several stringers; it supplied outtakes of
newsfilm to the CIA;* established a formal channel of conmunication
between the Washington bureau chief and the Agency; gave the Agency
access to the CBS newsfilm library; and allowed reports by CBS
correspondents to the Washington and New York newsrooms to be routinely
monitored by the CIA. Once a year during the 1950s and early 1960s,
CBS correspondents joined the CIA hierarchy for a private dinner and
The details of the CBS-CIA arrangements were worked out by
subordinates of both Dulles and Paley. "The head of the company doesn't
want to know the fine points, nor does the director V said a CIA official.
"Both designate aides to work that out. It keeps them above the battle."
Dr. Frank Stanton, for many years president of the network, was aware
of the general arrangements Paley made with Dulles and later McCone —
including those for cover, according to CIA officials. (Stanton, in an
interview last year, said he could not recall any cover arrangements.)
♦From the ClA's point of view, access to newsfilm, outtakes and pholK>
libraries is a matter of extreme lnportance. The Agency's photo archive
is probably the greatest on earth; its graphic sources inclvide satellites,
photo-reconnaissance planes, miniature cameras. . .and the American press.
During the 1950s and 1960s, the Agency obtained carte blanche borrowing
privileges in the photo libraries of literally dozens of American newspapers,
m ag azine s and television outlets. For obvioias reasons, the CIA also assigned
high priority to the recruitment of photojoumalists, particularly foreign-
based members of network camera crews. ' •
21 - 21 - 21-21
But Paley's designated contact for the Agency was Sig Mickelson,
president of CBS News between 1954 and 1961. Mickelson is now head
of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, both of which were associated
with the CIA for many years.
In 1976, CBS News president Richard Salant ordered an in-house
investigation of the network's dealings with the CIA. (Sane of its
findings were first disclosed in a recent dispatch in the Los Angeles Times
by Robert Scheer.) But Salant 's report makes no mention of his own
extensive dealings with the Agency, which continued into the 1970s.
Many details about the CBS-CIA relationship were found in Mickelson 's
files by two investigators for Salant. Among the documents they found was
a SepteiEber 13th, 1957, m6mo to Mickelson from Ted Kbop, CBS News bureau
chief in Wa shin gton from 1948 to 1961. It describes a phone call to
Kbop from Colonel Stanley Grogan of the CIA: "Grogan phoned to say that
Reeves QuxDther CIA official] is going to New York to be in charge of the
CIA contact office there and will call to see you and some of your
confreres. Grogan says normal activities will continue to channel through
the Washington office of CBS News." The r^rt to Sjlant also states:
"Further Investigation of Mickelson 's files reveals some details of the
relationship between the CIA and CBS news. . . . Two key administrators
of this relationship were Mickelson and Kbop.... The main activity
appeared to be the delivery of CBS newsfilm to the CIA In addition
there is evidence that during 1964 to 1971 film material, including some
outtakes, were st^jplied by the CBS Newsfilm Library to the CIA through
22 - 22 - 22-22
and at the direction of Mr. Kbop*. ... Notes in Mr. Mickelson's
files indicate that the CIA used CBS films for training All of the
above Mickelson activities were handled on a confidoitial basis without
mentioning the words Central Intelligence Agency. The films were sent
to individuals at post office box nurbers and were paid for by individual,
not government, checks ” Mickelson also regularly sent the CIA
an internal fTRS newsletter, according to the report.
Salant's investigation led him to conclude that Frank Kearns, a
CBS-TV reporter from 1958 to 1971, "was a CIA guy who. got on the payroll
sora^iow through a CIA contact with somebody at CBS." Kearns has denied
the charge. But according to CIA officials, both Kearns and Austin
Goodrich, a CBS stringer, were undercover CIA employees, hired by the
network under arrangements approved by Paley.
last year a spokeanan for Paley denied a CBS rgxort by former
coxre^ondent Daniel Schorr that Mickelson and he had discussed Goodrich's
CIA status during a meeting with two Agency r^resentatives in 1954.
The spokeanan claimed that Paley had no knowledge that Goodrich had
worked for the CIA. "When I moved into the job 1 v/Ss told by Paley
that there was an ongoing relationship with the CIA," Mi c k elson said
in a recent interview. "He introduced me to two agents who he said
*On April 3rd, 1961, Koop left the Vfashington Bureau to become head of
the CBS, Inc. 's. Government Relations Department — a position he held
until his retirement on March 31st, 1972. Koop, who worked as a d^juty
in the Censorship Office in World War II, continued to deal with the CIA
in his new position according to CBS sources.
»ul. ,«ep IP touch. »h ai, ^
^xlh, at.apse.eato. I aseoned thlo ,ep a aottp. relattopship at the
tl«. IMS «s at the height of the Chid »aa and I assuned the
ccdsppicatlons tedla .ere ccoperatipg - though the Goodrich tetter
was cooprcmising. "
At the headquarters of CBS Ne^ m New Yorh. Paley's coopezation
wath the CIA is taken for grazrted by nany news executives and reporters.
despite the denials. Paley. 76. was not interviewed by Salant's
investigators, "it wouldn't do any eood " «sniH nno
uu any good, said one CBS executive
"It is the Slagle subject about ehlch his memry has failed.
SMaat discussed his o™ coptacts rith the CU, apd the fact that
he contlpued .spy of his predecessor's practices, Ip ap Ipterylee «th
reporter last year. The contacts, he said, began in February 1961
"wben I got a phone call fidin a CIA nan who said he » „•
said he had a working relation-
Ship «th Slg Mlchelsop. Ihe nap said, 'Your bosses w all about It
i>ccordlpg to Sal.Pt, the CIA repr^septatlve ashed that CBS coptlpue to
-PPly the Aget^ aith correspopdents
aaailable for debrleflpg by Agency officials. Said Salapt; "I said
bO OP talMpg to the reporters, apd let thee, see broadcast tapes, but
bd outtahes. IMS aept op for a otadoer of years - ipto the early
IP 1964 and 1965, Salapt seryed op a supersecret CIA task force »Mch
e^^lcred aathcds of bea^ Ad^..^ ^
24 - 24 - 24-24
Oiina. The other m®bers of the four-naii study team ^re Zbigaiav
Brzezinski, then a professor at Columbia University; William Griffith.
en Professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology; and John Hayes, then vice president of the Washington Post
Conpany for radio-TV.* The principal governnent officials associated
with the project were Cord Meyer of the CIA; McGeorge Bundy, then
special assistant to the president for National Security; Leonard
Marks, then director of the USIA; and Bill Moyers, then special
assistant to President Johnson and now a CBS corre^ndent.
Salant-s involvanent in the project began with a call from
I^nard Marks, "who told me the White House wanted to form a
conmittee of four people to make a study of U.S. overseas broadcasts
behind the Iron Curtain." When Salant arrived in Washington for the first
meeting he was told that project was CIA-sponsored. "Its purpose."
he said, "was to detennine how best to set up short-wave broadcasts into
Red Oilna." Acconpanied by a CIA officer named Paul Henzie. the
comnittee of four subsequently traveled around the wirld inspecting
facilities run by Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty (both CIA-run
operations at the time), the Voice of America and A;^ Forces Radio.
After more than a year of study, they submitted a report to Moyers
recornnending that the government establish a broadcast service, run
by the Voice of America, to be beamed at People's Republic of China.
and N ewsweek magazines. According to CIA and Senate sources.
Agency files contain written agreenents with former foreign correspondem
L sourc e..;
Fbst Cocuanv iCa+h=^ r °bairman of the board of the Washington
^J^r^assignment. he said. Participants in the project signed secrecy
refused to say whether the CIA has ended all its associations with
individuals ^rtio work for the two publications. Allen Dulles often
interceded with his good friend, the late Henry Luce, founder of
Time and Life nagazines, who readily allowed certain inetrbers of his
staff to work for the Agency and agreed to provide jobs and credentials
for other CIA operatives who lacked journalistic ejqjerience.
For many years. Luce's personal emissary to the CIA was C.D. Jackson,
a Time, Inc., vice-president \dio was publisher of Life magazine from
I960 until his death in 1964. While a Time executive, Jackson coauthored
a CIA-sponsored study reconroending reorganization of the American
intelligence services in the early 1950s. Jackson, whose Time-Life
service was intem 5 >ted by a one-year White House tour as an assistant
to President Dwi^t Eisenhower, approved specific arrangements for
providing CIA employees with Time-Life cover. Some of these arrangements
were made wd.th the knowledge of Lucy's wife, Clare Boothe. Other
arrangem^ts for Time cover, according to CIA officials (including
those ^o dealt with Luce), were made with the knowledge of Hedley
Donovan, now editor-in-chief of Time, Inc. Donovan,*who took over
editorial direction of all Time, Inc. , publications in 1959, denied ^
in a telQ)bone interview that he knew of any such arrangarents. "I was
never approached and I'd be amazed if Luce approved such arrangements,"
Donovan said. "Harry Luce had a very scri 5 >ulous regard for the difference
between journalism and government."
In the 1950s and early 1960s, Time magazine's foreign correspondents
attended CIA "briefing" dinners similar to those the CIA laid on for CBS.
And Luce, according to CIA officials, made it a regular practice
to brief Dulles or other high Agency officials when he retiimed frcrn
his frequent trips abroad. Luce and the men who ran his magazines in the
1950s and 1960s encouraged their foreign correspondents to provide
help to the CIA, particulaurly in terms of information that might be
useful to the Agency for intelligence purposes or recruiting foreigners.
At Newsweek . Agency sources reported, the CIA formally engaged the
services of several foreign correspondents and stringers under arrangements
approved by senior editors at the magazine. Newswe^ 's stringer in Rome
in the mid-Fifties made little secret of the fact that he worked for the
CIA. Malcolm Muir, Newsweek 's editor from its founding in 1937 until
its sale to the Washington Post Company in 1961, said in a recent
interview that his dealings with the CIA were limited to private briefings
he gave Allen Dulles after trips abroad and arrangements he approved for
regular debriefing of Newsweek correspondents by the Agency. He said
that he had never provided cover for CIA operatives, but that others ^
high in the Newswe^ organization might have done so without his
"I would have thought there might have been stringers who were
agents, but I didn't know who they were," said Muir. "I do t hink in
those days the CIA kept pretty close touch with all responsible reporters.
Whenever I heard something that I thou^t mi^t be of interest to Allen
Dulles , I'd call him up. . . . At one point he appointed one of his CIA
men to keep in regular contact with our reporters, a chap that I knew but
whose name I can't remember. I had a nurrber of friends in Allen Dulles'
organization." Muir said that Harry Kern, Newsweek 's foreign editor
from 1945-56 and Ernest K. Lindley, the magazine's Washington bureau
chief during the same period, "regularly checked in with various
fellows in the CIA."
"To the best of my knowledge," ^id Harry Kern, "nobody at
Newsweek worked for the CIA .... The informal relationship was there.
Why have anybotfy sign anything? What we knew we told than [the CIA^ and
the State Department When I went to Washington, I would talk to
Foster or Allen Dulles about wbat was going on. ... We thoug^it it was
adnirable at the time. We were all on the same side." CIA officials say
that Kern's relationship with the Agency was extensive. In 1956, he
left Newswe^ to run Foreign Reports , a Washington-based newsletter
whose subscribers Kem refuses to identify.
Ernest Lindley, wtoo remained at Newsweek until 1961, said in an
interview that he regularly consulted with Dulles and other high CIA
officials before going abroad and Isriefed them upon his return.
"Allen was very helpful to me and I tried to reciprocate \rtien I could,"
he said. "I'd give him ny Inpressions of people I'd met oversesLS.
Once or twice he asked me to brief a large group of intelligence people,
when I came back from the Asian-African conference in 1955, for example ;
they mainly wanted to know about various people . m
As Washington binreau chief, Lindley said he learned from Malcolm Muir
that the magazine's stringer in Southeastern Europe was a CIA contract
enployee — given credentials under arrangements worked out with the
m a n age me nt. "I remember it came up — vbether it was a good idea to keep
this person from the Agency; eventually it was decided to discontinue the
association," Lindley said.
When N&vsweek was purchased by the Washington Post Ccmpjiny,
publi^er Philip L. Graham was informed by Agency officials that the
CIA occasionally used the magazine for cover purposes, according to
CIA sources. "It was widely known that Phil Graham was somebody you
could get help from," said a former deputy director of the Agency.
"Frank Wisner dealt with him." Wisner, deputy director of the CIA
from 1950 until shortly before his suicide in 1965, was the Agency's
premier orchestrator of "black" operations, including many in which
journalists were involved. (Wisner liked to boast of his "mighty
Wurlitzer," a wondrous propaganda instrument he built and played with
help from the press.) Phil Graham was probably Wisner 's closest friend.
Hbwever, Graham, who conmitted suicide in 1963, apparently knew little
of the specifics of any cover arrangements with Newsweek . CIA sources
In 1965-66, an accredited Newsweek stringer in the Far East was
in fact a CIA contract enployee earfiing an ann ual salary of $10,000
from the Agency, according to Robert T. Wood, then a CIA officer in the
Hong Kong station. Seme Newsweek correspondents and stringers continued
to m a in t ain formal ties with the Agency intb the 1970s, CIA sources said.
Information about Agency dealings with the Washington Post newspaper
is extranely sketchy. According to CIA officials, some Post stringers
have been CIA enployees, but these officials say they do not know if
anyone in the Post management was aware of the arrangerooits.
All editors-in-chief and managing editors of the Post since 1950
say they knew of no foimal Agency relationships with either stringers or
ment)ers of the Post staff. ”If anything was done it was done by Phil
without our knowledge,” said one. Agency officials, meanwhile, make
no claim that Post staff members have had covert affiliations with the
Agency while working for the paper. ♦
Katharine Graham, Philip Graham^ s widow and the current publisher
of the Post , says she has never been informed of any CIA relationships
with either Post or Newsweek personnel. In November of 1973, Mrs. Gra h a m
called William Colby and asked if any Post stringers or staff members
were associated with the CIA. Colby assured her that no staff members
were employed by the Agency but refused to discuss the question of
♦The Tn^is[vil le-Courier Journal . From Decenber 1964 until March ,1965,
a CIA undercover operative named Robert H. Campbell worked on the
Courier- Journal . According to hi^i-level CIA soxirces, Campbell was
hired by the paper under arrangements the Agency made with Norman E. Isaacs,
Iben executive editor of the Courier- Journal . Barry Bingham Sr., then
publisher of the paper, also had knowledge of the arrangements, the
sources said. Both Isaacs and Bingham have denied knowing that Campbell
was an intelligence agent when he was hired. ^
The cooplex saga of Canpbell*s hiring was first revealed in a
Courier-Journal story written by James P. Herzog on March 27th, 1976,
during the Senate cornnittee*s investigation. Herzog's account began:
"When 28-year-old Robert H. Campbell was hired as a Courier-Journal
reporter in December 1964, he couldn't t3^ and knew little about news
♦Philip Geyelin, editor of the Post editorial page, worked for the Agency
before joining the Post .
writing." The account then quoted the paper's former managin g
editor as saying that Isaacs told him that Canpbell was hired as a
result of a CIA request: "Norman said when he was in Washington
[jLn 1964J he had been called to lunch with seme friend of his who was with
the CIA Quid thatj] he wanted to send this young fellow down to get
him a little knowledge of newspapering. " All aspects of Campbell's
hiring were hi^ily unusual. No effort had been made to check his
credentials, and his enployment records contained the following two
notations: "Isaacs has files of correspondence and investigation of this
man," and "Hired for tenporary work — no referaice checks coipleted
The level of Canpbell's joirmalistic abilities apparently
remained consistent during his stint at the paper. "The stuff that
Canpbell turned in was almost unreadable," said a former assistant
city editor. One of Canpbell's major reportorial projects was a
feature about wooden Indians. It w&s never published. During his
taiure at the paper, Canpbell frequented a bar a few steps from the office
where, on occasion, he reportedly confided to fellow drinkers that he
was a CIA enployee.
According to CIA sources, Canpbell's tour at the Courier- Jourpa i
was arranged to provide him with a record of journalistic experience that
would enhance the plausibility of future reportorial cover and teach
him something about the newspaper business. The Courier-Jornnai 'g
investigation also turned up the fact that before caning to Louisville
he bad worked briefly for the Hbmell, New York, Ev«^ning Trib»>^e ,
published by Freedom News, Inc. CIA sources said the Agency had
made arrangements with that paper's management to enploy Canpbell.*
At the Courier-Journal . Canpbell was hired under arrangements
made with Isaacs and approved by Bingham, say CIA and Senate sources.
"We paid the Coiirier-Joumal so they could pay his salary," said
an Agency official who was involved in the transaction. Responding
by letter to these assertions, Isaacs, who left Louisville to become
president and publisher of the Wilmington (Delaware) News & Journal ,
said: "All I can do is repeat the simple truth — that never, under
any circumstances, or at any time, have I ever knowingly hired a
government agent. I've also tried to dredge ny memory, but
Campbell's hiring meant so little to me that nothing emerges
None of this is to say that I couldn't have been 'had.'" Barry Bingham Sr.
said last year in a tel^hone interview that he had no specific memory
of Canpbell 's hiring and denied that he knew of any arrangements
between the newspaper's management and the CIA. However, CIA officials
said that the Coiirier- Journal , through contacts with Bingham, provided
other unspecified assistance to the Agency in the 1960s and 1960s.
The Courier- Journal ' s detailed, front-page account of Carnpbell's hiring
was initiated by Barry Bingham Jr. , who succeeded his father as editor
and publisher of the paper in 1971. The article is the only major piece
^Louis Buisch, president of the publishing company of the Homell New
York Evening Tribune , told the Coxirier-Joumal in 1976 that he
remen4)ered little about the hiring of Robert Cami*)ell. 'He wasn't there
very long, and he didn't make much of an impression," said Buisch, who has
since retired from active management of the newspaper.
of self-investigation by a newspaper that has appeared on this
♦The American Broadcasting Coopany, and the National Broadcasting
Company. According to CIA officials, ABC continued to provide cover for
some CIA operatives througii the 1960s. One was Sam Jaffee whom CIA
officials described as a contract enployee. In addition, another
well-known network correspondent performed covert tasks for the Agency.
At the time of the Senate hearings. Agency officials serving at the
highest levels refused to say whether the CIA was still maintaining
active relationships with marbers of the ABC News organization. All
cover arrangements were made with the knowledge of ABC executives, the
They professed to know few specifics about the Agency's relationships
with NBC, except that several foreign correspondents of the network
undertook some assignments for the Agency in the 1950s and 1960s. "It
was a thing people did then," said Tlichard Wald, president of NBC News
since 1973. "I wouldn't be sinprised if people here — including some
of the correspondents in those days — had connections with the Agency."
♦The Copley Press, and its subsidiary, the Copley News Service.
This relationship, first disclosed publicly by reporters Joe Trento and
Dave Roman in Penthouse magazine, is said by CIA officials to have been
among the Agency's most productive in terms of getting "outside" cover
for its enployees. Copley owns nine newspapers in California and Illinois —
♦Probably the most thoughtful article on the subject of the press and
the CIA was written by Stuart H. Loory and appeared in the Septarber-
October, 1974 issue of Colxinbia Joumalian Review.
among them the San Diego Union and Evening Tribune . The Trento-Roman
account, which was financed by a grant from the Fund for Investigative
Journalism, asserted that at least twenty-three Copley News Service
aiployees perfonned work for the CIA.. "The Agency's involvement
with the Copley organization is so extensive that it's almost
Inpossible to sort out," said a CIA official who was asked about the
relationship late in 1976. Other Agency officials said then that
James S. Copley, the chain's owner until his death in 1973, personally
made most of the cover arrangements with the CIA.
According to Trento and Roman, Copley personally volunteered his
news service to then-president Eisenhower to act as "the eyes and ears"
against "the Comnunist threat in Latin and Central America" for "our
intelligence services." James Copley was also the guiding hand behind
the Inter-American Press Association, a CIA-funded organization with
heavy membership among right-wing Latin Anerican newspaper editors.
■•Other "major" news organizatins. According to Agency officials,
CIA files docuneit additional "cover" arrangements with the following
news-gathering organizations — among others: the Nfew York Herald-Tribune ,
the Satiirday Evening Post . Scripps-Hbward Newspapers, the Hearst
Corporation (Seymour K. Freiden, Hearst 's current London bureau chief and
former Herald Tribune editor and correspondent, has been identified as
a CIA enployee by CIA scairces), Associated Press*, United Press
International, Reuters and the Miami Herald .
"And that's just a snail part of the list," in the words of one
official who served in the CIA hierarchy. Like many sources, this
official said that the only way to end the uncertainties about aid
furnished the Agency by journalists is to disclose the contents of the
CIA files — a course opposed by almost adl of thirty-five present and
former CIA officials interviewed over the course of a year.
t**Wes'<5allagher, general manager of the Associated Press from 1962 to
1976, takes vigorous exception to the notion that the Associated Press
might have aided the Agency. "¥e've always stayed clear of the CIA;
I woiHd have fired an3?body who worked for them. We don't even let
our people debrief." At the time of the first disclosures that
reporters had worked for the CIA, Galla^er went to Colby. "We tried
to find out names. All he would say was that no full-time staff
member of the Associated Press was employed by the Agency. We talked
to Bush. He said the same thing." Gallagher suggested that the
Agency might have placed its personnel in Associated Press bureaus
without consulting the management of the wire service. But Agency
officials Insist that they were able to make cover arrangements
through someone in the vgjper management levels of Associated Press,
whom they refuse to identify.)
35 - 35 - 35-35
COLBY COTS HIS LOSSES
The CIA's use of Journalists continued virtually unabated
until 1973 when, In response to public disclosure that the Agency
had secretly enployed American reporters, William Colby began
scaling down the program. In his public statements, Colby con-
veyed the Lipresslon that the use of Journalists had been minimal
and of limited lnportance to the Agency.
He then Initiated a series of moves Intended to convince
the press. Congress and the public that the CIA had gotten out
of the news business. But according to Agency officials, Colby
had In fact thrown a protective net around his most valuable In-
telligence assets in the Journalistic community. He ordered his
deputies to maintain Agency ties with Its best Journalist contacts
while severing formal relationships with many regarded as Inactive,
relatively unproductive or only marginally Important. In review-
Ing Agency files to comply with Colby's directive, officials found
that many Journalists had not performed useful functions for the
CIA In years. Such relationships, perhaps as many ^s 100, were
terminated between 1973 and 1976.
Meanwhile, Important CIA operatives who had be«i placed on the
staffs of seme major newspaper and broadcast outlets were told to
resign and become stringers or freelancers, thus enabling Colby to
assure concerned editors that members of their staffs were not CIA
enployees. Colby also feared that some valuable stringer-operatives
nrL^t find their covers blown if scrutiny of the Agency's ties with
Journalists continued. Some of these individuals were reassigned
to Jobs on so-called proprietary publications — foreign periodicals
and broadcast outlets secretly funded and staffed by the CIA. Other
Journalists vrtw had signed fornal contracts vrlth the CIA — naldng
than enployees of the Agency — were released from their contracts
and asked to continue working under less fonnal arranganents .
In November 1973, after many such shifts had been made, Colby
told reporters and editors from the New York Times and the Washington
Star that the Agency had "some three dozen" American newsmen "on the
CIA payroll," including five who worked for "general-circulation news
organizations." Yet even while the Senate Inte llig ence Conmittee was
holding Its hearings in 1976, according to hl^-level CIA sources,
the CIA continued to maintain ties with 75 tx> 90 Journalists of every
description — executives, reporters, stringers, photographers, columnists,
bureau clerks and manbers of broadcast technical crews. More than half
of these had been moved off CIA contracts and payrolls but they were
still bound by other secret agreements with the Agency. According to
an unpublished report by the House Select Corrmlttee on Intelligence,
chaired by Representative Otis Pike, at least fifteen news organizations
were still providing cover for CIA operatives as of 1976.
Colby, who built a reputation as one of the most skilled under-
cover tacticians in the CIA’s history, had himself run Journalists in
clandestine operations before becoming director in 1973. But even
he was said by his closest associates to have been disturbed at how
extensively and. In his view, indiscriminately, the Agency continued
to use Journalists at the time he took over. "Too prominent," the
director frequently said of some of the Individuals and news organiza-
tions then working with the CIA. (Others in the Agency refer to their
best-known Journalistic eissets as "brand names.")
"Colby's concern was that he might lose the resource altogether
unless we became a little more careful about who • we used and how we
got them," explained one of the former director's deputies. The
thrust of Colby's subsequent actions was to move the Agency's affilia-
tions away frcm the so-called "majors" and to concentrate them instead
in smaller newspaper chains, broadcasting groups and such specialized
publications ais trade Journals and newsletters.
The Agency's unwillingness to end its use of Journalists and
Its continued relationships with some news executives is largely the
product of two basic facts of the Intelligence game: Journalistic
cover is Ideal because of the Inquisitive nature of a reporter's Job;
and many other sources of institutional cover have been denied the
CIA In recent years by businesses, foundations and educational Institutions
that once cooperated with the Agency.
"It's tough to run a secret agency In this country," explained one
high-level CIA official. "We have a curious aniblvalence about Intelligence.
In order to serve overseas we need cover. But we have been fighting a
rear guard action to try and provide cover. The Peace Corps Is off- lim its ,
so Is USIA, the foundations and voluntary organizations have been off-
- limits since '67, and there is a self-ltiposed prohibition on Pulbrlghts
^MLbrlght Scholars^ If you take the American ccrinunlty and line
15) who could work for the CIA and vrtr) couldn't there Is a very
narrow potential. Even the Foreign Service doesn't want us. So
where the hell do you go? Business is nice, but the press is a
natural. One Journalist is worth twenty agents. He has access,
the ability to ask questions without arousing suspicion."
» » »
39 - 39 - 39-39
THE R0I£ OP THE CHURCH CCMCTTEE
Despite the evidence of widespread CIA use of Journalists, the
Senate Intelligence Coninlttee and Its staff decided against Questioning
any of the reporters, editors, publishers or broadcast executives vyfliose
relationships with the Agency are detailed In CIA flies.
AccoixUng to sources In the Senate and the Agency, the use of
Journalists was one of two areas of Inquiry which the CIA went to extraor-
dlnaiy lengths to curtail. The other was the Agency's continuing and
extensive use of academics for recruitment and Informatlon-gatheidng
In both Instances, the sources said, former directors Colby and Bush
and CIA special counsel Mitchell Rogovln were able to convince key mendsers
of the committee that full inquiry or even limited public disclosure of
the dimensions of the activities would do irreparable damage to the nation's
Intelligence-gathering apparatus, as well as to the reputations of hundreds
of Individuals, Colby was reported to have been especially persuasive In
arguing that disclosure would bring on a latter-day ”wltch hunt" In which
the vlctljns were reporters, publishers and editors.^
Walter Elder, deputy to forroer CIA director McCone and the principal
Agency liaison to the Church corrmittee, argued that the cornnittee lacked
Jurisdiction because there had been no misuse of Journalists by the CIA;
the relationships had been voluntary. Elder cited as an exanple the case
of the Louisville Couid.er^ournal . "Church and other people on the
coninittee were on the chandelier about the Courier-Joum^T ," one Agency
official said, "until we pointed out that we had gone to the editor to
arrange cover, and that the editor had said, 'Fine.’"
Some members of the Church committee and staff feared that Agency
officials had gained control of the inquiry and that they were being
hoodwinked. "The Agency was extremely clever about it and the conmlttee
played rl^t into its hands," said one congressional source familiar with
all aspects of the Inquiry. "Oiurch and some of the other menbers were
much more Interested in making headlines than in doing serious, tou^
investigating. The Agency pretended to be giving i?) a lot whenever it
was asked about the flashy stuff — assassinations and secret weapons and
James Bond operations. Then, when it came to thln^ that they didn't
want to give away, that were much more Inportant to the Agency, Colby in
particular called in his chits. And the conmlttee bou^t it."
The Senate conmlttee *s lnvestlg3.tlon into the use of Journalists
was sig«rvlsed by William B. Bader, a former CIA intelligence officer vho
returned briefly to the Agency this year as deputy to CIA director Stans field
Turner and is now a high-level intelligence official at the Defense Depart-
raent. Bader was assisted by David Aaron, vrtio now serves as the deputy to
Zbigilew Brzezinski, President Carter's National Security adviser.
According to colleagues on the staff of the Sqpate Inquliy, both
Bader and Aaron were disturbed by the information contained in CIA files
about Journalists; they urged that further investigation be undertaken by
the Senate's new permanent CIA oversight conmlttee. That conmlttee,
however, has spent its first year of existence writing a new charter for
the CIA and menbers say there has been little interest in delving further
into the CIA's use of the press.
Bader's investigation was conducted under unusually difficult
conditions. His first request for specific information on the use of
Jour n alists was turned down by the CIA on grounds that there had been no
abuse of authority and that current Intelligence operations mi^t be
conpromised. Senators Walter Huddleston, Howard Baker, Gary Hart, Walter
Mondale and Charles Mathias — ^who had expressed Interest in the subject of
the press and the CIA — shared Bader's distress at the CIA reaction. In a
series of phone calls and meetings with CIA director George Bush and
other Agency officials, the senators insisted that the committee staff
be provided information about the scope of CIA-press activities. Finally,
Bush agreed to order a search of the files and have those records pulled
which dealt with operations vrtiere Journalists had been used. But the raw
files could not be made available to Bader or the conmlttee. Bush insisted.
Instead, the director decided, his deputies would condense the material
into one-paragraph sumnarles describing in the most general terms the
activities of each individual Journalist. Most Inportant, Bush decreed, the
names of Journalists and of the news organizations with vtfilch they were
affiliated would be omitted from the sunmaries. However, there mi^t '
be some indication of the geographicaO. area where the Journalist had
served and a general description of the type of news organization for
vidiich he worked.
Assembling the sunmaries was difficult, according to CIA officials
who supervised the Job. There were no "Journalist files" per se and
information had to be collected from divergent sources that reflect the
hl^Hy conpartmentallzed character of the CIA. Case officers who had
handled Journalists supplied some names. Piles were pulled on various
undercover operations in which it seansd logical that Journalists had
been used. (Significantly, all work by reporters for the Agency fell
under the category of covert operations, not foreigi Intelligence.) Old sta-
tion records were culled. "We really had to scrairble," said one official.
After several weeks, Bader began receiving the sunmarles, which
numbered over 400 by the time the Agency said it had conpleted searching
its files . Bader and others to vAian he described the contents of the
sunmarles Inmedlately reached some general conclusions: the sheer nuntoer
of formalized relationships with Journalists was far greater than the CIA
had ever hinted; and the Agency's use of reporters and news executives
was an intelligence asset of the first magiltude. Reporters had been
Involved in almost every conceivable kind of operation. Of the 400-plus
individuals vAiose activities were surrmarlzed, between 200 and 250 were
"working Jour na l i sts" in the usual sense of the term — reporters, editors,
correspondents, photographers; the rest were employed (at least nominally)
by book publishers, trade publications and newsletters.
Still the sumnarles were Just that: corrpressed, vague, sketchy,
incoiplete. Ihey could be subject to airfeiguous interpretation. And they
contained no suggestion that the CIA had abused it s^ authority by manipulating
the editorial content of American newspapers or broadcast reports.
Bader's unease with what he had found led him to seek advice from
several experienced hands in the fields of forei^ relations and
intelligence. Ihey suggested that he press for more Infonnatlon and
give those members of the comnittee in whom he had the most confidence a
general idea of what the summaries revealed. Bader again went to fienators
Huddleston, Baker, Hart, Mondale and mthlas. Meanwhile he told the CIA
43 -^ 3 - 43-^3
that he wanted to see more — the full files on peitiaps a hundred or so
of the Individuals whose activities were summarized. The reqi^est was
turned down outrl^t. Ihe Agency would provide no more Information on the
Ihe CIA's Intransigence led to an extraordinary dinner meeting at
Agency headquarters In late March 1976. Those present Included Senators
Prank Church (who had now been briefed by Bader) , John Tower of Texas ,
the vice-chairman of the comnlttee, Bader and William Miller, director of
the coimlttee staff; CIA director Bush; Agency counsel Rogovln; and
Seymour Bolton, a hl^o-level CIA operative vAio for years had been a
station chief In Germany and Willy Brandt's case officer. Bolton had been
deputized by Bush to deal with the cotnnlttee's requests for Information on
Journalists and acad«nlcs. At the dinner, the Agency held to Its refusaLL
to provide any full files. Nor would It give the comnlttee the names of
any individual Journalists described In the 400 sumrarles of the news organi-
zations with idiom they were affiliated. The discussion, according to
participants, grew heated. The comnlttee 's representatives said they could
not honor their mandate — to determine If the CIA ha^ abused Its authority—
without further Information. The CIA maintained It could not protect
Its legitimate Intelligence operations or Its enployees If further dis-
closures were made to the ccmmlttee. Many of the Journalists were contract
enployees of the Agency, Bush said at one point, and the CIA was no less
obliga t ed to them than to any other agents.
Finally a highly unusual agreement was hammered out: Bader and Miller
would be permitted to examine "sanitized" versions of the full files of
twenty-five Journalists selected from the suniiiarles; but the names of the
Journalists and the news orga n i z a t ions which enployed them would be blanked
out, as would the identities of other CIA enployees mentioned in the
files. Church and Tower would be permitted to examine the unsanitlzed
versions of five of the twenty-five files — to attest that the CIA was not
hiding anything except the names. Ihe whole deal was contingent on an
agreement that neither Bader, Miller, Tower nor Church would reveal the
contents of the files to other members of the comnlttee or staff.
Bader began reviewing the 400-sorae sunmarles again. His object was
to select twenty-five that, on the basis of the sketchy information they
contained, seemed to represent a cross section. Dates of CIA activity,
general descriptions of news organizations, types of Journalists and
undercover operations all figured in his calculations.
Prcan the twenty-five files he got back, according to Senate sources
and CIA officials, an unavoidable conclusion emerged: that to a degree
never widely suspected, the CIA in the 1950s, 60s and even early 1970s
had concentrated its relationships with Journalists in the most prominent
sectors of the American press corprf-. Including four or five of the largest
newspa^)ers in the country, 1iie broadcast networks and the two major
newsweekly m aga z i n es . Despite the omission of names and affiliations from
the twenty-five detailed files (each was between three and eleven Inches
thick), the information was usually sufficient to tentatively identify
either the newsman, his affiliation or both — particularly because so many
of them were prcMlnent in the profession.
'There is quite an incredible spread of relationships," Bader reported
to the senators. *TTou don^t need to manipulate Time magazine, for example,
because there are Agency people at the manag^nent level."
(Ironically, one major news organization that set limits on its
de a li n g s with the CIA, according to Agency officials, was the one with
45 - 45 - 45-45
perh^s the greatest editorial affinity for the Agency's long-range g;nai<?
and policies: U.S. News and World Report . The late David Lawrence, the
columnist and founding editor of U.S. News, was a close friend of Allen
Dulles . But he repeatedly refused requests by the CIA director to use the
magazine for cover purposes, the sources said. Atone point, according
to a hl^n CIA official, Lawrence Issued orders to his sub-editors in vdilch
he threatened to fire any U.S. News enployee vho was found to have
entered into a formal relationship with the Agency. Former editorial
executives at the m agazine confirmed that such orders had been Issued.
CIA sources declined to say, however. If the magazine remained off-limits
to the Agency after Lawrence's death In 1973 or If Lawrence's orders had
Meanwhile, Bader attenpted to get more Information fron the CIA,
particularly about the Agency's current relationships with Journalists.
He encountered a stone wall. "Busfi has done nothing to date," Bader told
associates . "None of the Inportant operations are affected In even a marginal
way." The CIA also refused the staff's requests for more Information on
the use of academics. Bush began to urge members of the comnittee to cur-
tail Its Inquiries In both areas and conceal Its findings in the final
report. ”.He kept saying, 'Don't fuck these guys in the press and on the
campuses,' pleading that tliey were the only areas of public life with any
credibility left,” reported a Senate source. Colby, Elder and Rogovln
also lnplored individual members of the conmittee to keep secret what the
staff had found. "Ihere were a lot of representations that if this stuff
got out some of the biggest names In Journalism would get smeaired,”
said another source. Exposure of the CIA's relationships vd.th joumallsts
and acadend.cS} the Agency feared} would close down two of the few avenues
of agent recruitment still open. "Ihe danger of e:5>osure Is not the
other side}" explained one CIA expert In covert operations. "This Is not
stuff the other side doesn't know about. The concern of the Agency Is that
another area of cover will be denied. "
A senator vho was the object of the Agency's lobbying later said:
"From the CIA point of view this was the hl^iest} most sensitive covert
program of all. . . .It was a much larger part of the operational systan
than has been indicated." He added} "I had a great compulsion to press
the point but it was late... If we had demanded} they would have gone the
legal route to flgjit It."
Indeed time was running out for the conralttee. In the view of
many staff mentoers^lt had squandered its resources In the search for
CIA assassination plots and polsoti pen letters . It had undertaken the
inquiry Into Joumallsts almost as an afterthou^t. The dimensions of
the program and the CIA's sensitivity to providing information on it had
caught the staff and the conmlttee by surprise. The CIA oversl^t
ccninittee that would succeed the Church panel would have the Inclination
and the time to inquire into the subject methodically; if, as seemed
likely} the CIA refused to cooperate further} the mandate of the successor
conmlttee would put it in a more aidvantageoua position to wage a protracted
fight... Or so the reasoning went as Church and the few other senators even
vaguely familiar with Bader's findings reached a decision not to pursue
the matter further. No Journalists would be interviewed about their deal-
ings with the Agency — either by the staff or by the senators, in secret
or In open session. The specter, first raised by CIA officials, of a
witch, hunt In the press corps haunted some members of the staff and the
ccranlttee. "We weren't about to bring up guys to the committee and then
have everybody say they've been traitors to the ideals of their profession,"
said a senator.
Bader, according to associates, was satisfied with the decision and
believed that the successor committee would pick up the Inquiry vhere he
had left It. He was opposed to making public the names of individual
Journalists. He had been concerned all along that he had entered a
"gray area" In which there were no moral absolutes. Had the CIA "manipu-
lated" the press In the classic sense of the term? Probably not, he
concluded; the major news organizations and their executives had willingly
lent their resources to the Agency;^ forelgi correspondents had regarded
work for the CIA as natloral service and a way of getting better stories
and climbing to the top of their profession. Had the CIA abused Its
authority? It had dealt with the press almost exactly as It had dealt with
other Institutions from which It sou^t cover^the diplomatic service,
academia, corporations. Ihere was nothing In the CIA's charter which
declared any of these Institutions off-limits to America's Intelligence
service. And, In the case of the press, the agency had exercised none
care in Its dealings than with many other institutions; It had gone to
ccxislderable lengths to restrict Its domestic role to covei^ Bader was
•Many Jour nalis ts and some CIA officials dispute the Agency's claim that it
has been scrupulous In respecting the editorial integrity of American
publications and broadcast outlets.
48 - 48 - 48-48
also said to be concerned that his knowledge was so heavily based on
Inforroatlon furnished by the CIA that he hadn't gotten the other side
of the story from those Journalists who had associated with the Agency.
He could be seeing only "the lantern show, " he told associates . Still ,
Bader was reasonably sure that he had seen pretty much the full panoply
of what was in the files . If the CIA had wanted to deceive him It would
have never given away so much, he reasoned. "It was smart of the agency
to cooperate to the extent of showing the material to Bader," observed
a conmlttee source. '"Ihat way. If one fine day a file pepped ip the
A^ncy would be covered. Ihey could say they had already informed the
Congress . "
Ihe dependence on CIA files posed another problem: the CIA's
perception of a relatlcaishlp with a Journalist ml^t be quite different
than that of the Journalist: A CIA official might think he had exercized
control over a Journalist; the Jouroallst mi^t think he had sinply had
a few drinks with a spook. It was possible that CIA case officers had '
written self-serving memos for the files about their dealings with Journa-
lists, that the CIA was Jiist as subject to conxnon btSreaucratic "cover-
your-ass" paperwork as any other agency of government.
A CIA official who attoipted to persuade members of the Senate
comnlttee that the Agency's use of Journalists had been Innocuous
maintained that the files were Indeed filled with "puffing" by case officers.
"You can't establish vhat is puff and vhat isn't," he claimed. Many
reporters, he added, "were recruited for finite /specific/ undertakings
and would be appalled to find that they were listed /in Agency files/ as
CIA operatives." This same official estimated that the flies contained
descriptions of about half a dozen reporters and correspondents vAio would
be considered "fanious"— that Is, their names would be recogiized by
most Americans. "The files show that the CIA goes to the press for help
and Just as often that the press comes to the CIA," he observed. "...There
Is a tacit agreonent In many of these cases that there Is going to be a
quid pro quo" — l.e., that the reporter Is going to get good stories fron
the Agency and that the CIA will pick 153 some valuable services from
Whatever the Interpretation, the findings of the Senate ccminlttee’s
Inquiry into the use of Journalists were deliberately burled— from the
full matibershlp of the coimilttee, from the Senate and from the public.
"There was a difference of opinion on how to treat the subject," explained
one source. "Some [senators] thought these were abuses vMch should be
exorcized and there were those v*io said ,'We don't know If this Is bad
or not . ' " ‘
Bader's fin dings on the subject were never discussed with the full
conulttee, even In executive session. That ralg^t h^ve led to leaks —
espec ia l l y In view of the ejq)loslve nature of the facts . Since the beginning
of the Church ccnmlttee's Investigation, leaks had been the panel's biggest
collective fear, a real threat to Its mission. At the sll^test sign of a
leak the CIA mlgit cut off the flow of sensitive Information (as It did several
times in other areas ) , c laim ing that the conmlttee could not be trusted with
secrets . To describe In the comnlttee ' s final report the true dimensions
of the Agency's use of Journalists would cause a furor In the press and on
the Senate floor. And It would result In heavy pressure on the CIA to end
Its use of Journalists altogether. "We Just weren't ready to take that
step," said a senator. A similar decision was made to conceal the results
of the staff's Inquiry Into the use gf academics. Bader, who supervised
both areas of Inquliy, concurred In the decisions and drafted those sections
of the ccannlttee's final report. Pages 191 to 201 were entitled "Covert
Relationships with the Uhlted States Media." "It hardly reflects what
we found," stated Senator Gary Hart. "There was a prolonged and elaborate
negotiation [with the CIA] over what would be said."
Obscuring the facts was relatively slnple. No mention was made of
the 400 summaries or what they showed. Instead the report noted blandly
that some fifty recent contacts with Journalists had been studied by the
cciiiiilttee staff — thus conveying the Impression that the Agency's dealings
with the press had been limited to those Instances. The Agency files,
the report noted, contained little evidence that the editorial content of
Amerlcan news reports had been affected by the CIA's dealing with Journalists.
Colby's misle adin g public statements about the use of Journalists were
repeated without serious contradiction or elaboratlen. The role of cooperating
news executives was given short shrift. The fact that the Agency had
concentrated Its relationships In the most prominent sectors of the press went
unmentloned. That the CIA continued to regard the press as 155 for grabs was
not even suggested.
(sidebars to folo)
WDRKING PRESS— CIA STiflE
To understand the role of most Journal Ist/operatlves , it Is
necessary to dismiss some myths about undercover work for American
intelligence services. Pew American agents are "spies" in the popularly
accepted sense of the tern. "Spying" — the acquisition of secrets from
a foreign government — is almost always done by foreign nationals who have
been recmjlted by the CIA and are under CIA control in their own countries.
Thus the primary role of an American working undercover abroad is often
to aid in the recruitment and "handling" of forelgi nationals who are
channels of secret information reaching American intelligence.
Many Journalists were used by the CIA to assist in this process and
they had the reputation of being among the best in the business. The
pecul iar nature of the Job of the foreign correspondent is ideal for such
work: He is accorded unusual access by his host country, permitted to
travel in areas often off-limits to other Americans, spends much of
time cultivating sources in governments, academic Ifistltutlons , the military
establishment and the scientific conmunltles . He has the opportunity to
form long-term personal relationships with sources and — pertiaps more
than ary other category of American operative — 1s in a position to make
correct Judgmsnts about the susceptibility and availability of forelgi
nationals for recruitment as spies . - . i: . ' J-iJf
"After a forelgier is recruited, a case officer often has to stay in
the background," e:q5lalned a CIA official. "So you use a Journalist to
coninunlcate and carry messages to and fixm both parties."
t , .i ^k.-‘ . .
Journalists in the field generally took their assignments in the same
manner as any other undercover operative. If, for instance, a Journalist
was based in Austria, he ordinarily would be under the general direction
of the Vienna station chief and report to a case officer. Some, particularly
roving correspondents or U.S. based reporters who made frequent trips
abroad, reported directly to CIA officials in Langley, Virginia.
The tasks they performed sometimes consisted of little more than
serving as "eyes and ears" for the CIA: reporting on vrtiat they had
seen or overheard in an Eastern European factory at a diplojiatic reception,
in Bonn, on the perimeter of a milltaiy base in Portugal. On other occasions,
their assignments were more conplex: planting subtly concocted pieces of
mlslnfonnatlon; hosting parties or receptions designed to bring together
American agents and foreign spies; serving up "black" propaganda to
leading foreign Journalists at lunch or dinner; providing their hotel
rooms or bureau offices as "drops"^for hl^dy sensitive infomatlon
moving to and from foreign agents; conveying instructions and dollars
to CIA controlled members of foreign governments.
Often the, CIA's relationship with a joumalistTmigiit begin informally with
a lunch, a drink, a casual exchange of information. An Agency official
might then offer a favor - for example, ’a trip to a country difficult to reach;
in return, he would seek nothing more than the opportunity to debrief
the reporter afterward. A few more lunches, a few more favors, and caiiy.
then might there be a mention of a formal arrangement — "That came lab^,"^
said a CIA official, 'After you had the Journalist on a string."
t.. . r
Ponnal recrultnent of reporters was generally handled at hi^ levels —
after the Journalist had undergone a thorou^ background check. The
actual approach ml^t even be made by a deputy director or division chief.
On seme occasions, no discussion would be entered into until the Journalist
had sighed a pledge of secrecy.
"Ihe secrecy agreement was the sort of ritual that got you into the
t^lbemacle," said a former assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence,
"After that you had to play by the rules." David Attlee Phillips, former
Western Hemisphere chief of clandestine settees and a former Journalist
himself, estimated in an interview that at least 200 Journalists signed
secrecy agreements or enployment contracts with the Agency in the past '
twenty-five years. Phillips, who owned a small English-language newspaper
in Santiago, Chile, vrtnen he was recruited by the CIA in 1950, described the
approach: "Sonebody fran the Agency says, ’I want you to help ne. I know
you are a true blue American, but i^.want you to sign a piece of paper before
I tell you what it's about. ’ I didn't hesitate to sign," noted Phillips,
" and a lot of newsmen didn't hesitate over the next twenty years." ,
" One of the things we always had going for us in terms of entlcJ^
reporters," observed a CIA official who coordinated some of the arrangements
with Journalists, "was that we could make them look better with their home
offices. A forelgi correspondent with ties to the Conpany [the CIA] stood
a much better chance than his conpetltors of getting the good stories."
Within the CIA, Journalist-operatives were accorded elite status, a
consequence of the coninon e:q)erlence Journalists shared with high-level
CIA officials. Many had gone to the same schools as their CIA handler's, moved
in the same circles, shared fashionably liberal, antl-Coinmmlst political
values, and were part of the same "old boy" network that constituted
sonethlng of an establishment elite in the media, politics and academia
of postwar America. Ihe most valued of these lent themselves for reasons _
of national service, not money.
The Agency's use of Journalists in undercover operations has been
most extensive In Western Europe ("That was the big focus, v^iere the threat
was," said one CIA official), Latin America and the Par East. In the 1950s ,
and 1960s Journalists were used as intermediaries — spotting, paying, passing ^
instructions— to members of the Christian Democratic party in Italy and the
Social Danocrats in Germany, both of which covertly received millions of
dollars from the CIA. During those years "we had Journalists aiU over Berlin
and Vienna Just to keep track of who the hell was coming in from the East
and vitet they were to," explained a CIA official.
In the Sixties, reporters were used extensively in the CIA offensive
against the Salvador Allende regime in Chile; they provided funds to
Allende's opponents and wrote anti-AUende propaganda for CIA proprd.etary
publications that were distributed in Chile. (CIA «fflclals insist that
they make no attenpt to influence the content of American newspapers, but
sane fallout is inevitable; during the Chilean offensive, CIA-generated black
propaga n da was often transmitted on the wire services out of Santiago and
turned up in American publications.)
According to CIA officials, the Agency has been particularly sparing
in its use of Journalist-agents in Eastern Europe on grounds that exposure
ml^t result in diplomatic sanctions against the IMlted States or in permanent
prohibitions against American correspondents serving In some countries. The
same officials claim that their use of Journalists In the Soviet Ifrdon has
been even more limited but they remain extrenely guarded in discussing the
subject. They are insistent, however, in maintaining that the Moscow
correspondents of major news organizations have not been "tasked" or
controlled by the Agency.
The Soviets, according to CIA officials, have consistently raised feilse
charges of CIA affiliation against individual American reporters as
part of a continuing diplomatic gone that often follows the ups and downs
of Soviet-Amerlcan relations. Ihe latest such charge by the Ptusslans —
against Christopher Vfren of the New York Times and Alfred Friendly Jr. ,
formerly of Newsweek, has no basis in fact, they insist.
CIA officials acknowledge, however, that such charges will persist as
long as the CIA continues to use Journalistic cover and maintains fonnal
affiliations with individuals in the profession. But even an absolute
prohibition against Agency use of Journalists would not free reportei^ ftxan
suspicion, according to many Agency officials. "LoSk at the Peace Corps,"
sad-d one source. "We have had no affiliation there and they [foreign
governments] still throw them out."
WORDS OF DISGUISE
Part of the confusion surrounding the use of American Journalists
by the CIA stems from semantic distinctions peculiar to the Intelllgsnce-
gatherlng profession. By carefully (and often misleadingly) using such
spyspeak terms as "contract enployee," "agent," "ccaitrol capability,"
"unilateral memo of understanding," "agent of opportunity" and "intelligence
asset," the Agency has made it virtually impossible for almost any layman —
including reporters experienced in covering intelligence activities and sena-
tors accustomed to being briefed by intelligence officers — to determine
the exact nature of many relationships maintained by the CIA over the
years with individual Journalists. The Agency has also managed to
obscure the most elemental fact about the relationships detailed in its
files: that they were formal, l.e., that there was recognition by all
parties Involved that the cooperatlhg Joxjmalists were woridng for the
CIA — whether or not they were paid ‘or had signed enployment contracts .
The pi?oblem of determining the precise role Joumalists have played
has been ccarpounded by the CIA’s use of equally technical terms peculiar
to the profession of Journalism — among them "stringer/’ "accredited
correspondent," "editorial employee," "general circulation," "freelance"
and even "reporter.” CIA officials, particularly Colby, have consistently
entangled In a semantic thicket the answers to such seemingly simple
questions as "Has Stewart Alsop ever waited for the CIA?" or "Has the
Agency ever used Time magazine correspondents as undercover operatives?"
, ' ■ SIKBAR B-2
The answer to both questions is yes, althou#i Colby has refused to answer
The figure of 400 Journalists who maintained formal relationships
j. with the Agency refers only to those who were "tasked" In their undercover
assignments or had a mutxial understanding that they would help the Agency
or were subject to some form of CIA contractual control. It does not
Include even larger nutitoers of Journalists v*io occasionally traded favors
with CIA officers In the normal give-and-take that exists between reporters
and their sources. Ihelr activities, too, are detailed In Agency files.
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